Burke and Hare
RELEASE DATE: May 12
Burke and Hare opens with the intriguing statement: ‘This is a true story … except for the bits that aren’t.’ What follows is a comic examination of the truly bizarre Scottish trade in bodies that supplied 19th century medical schools.
William Burke (Simon Pegg – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul) and William Hare (Andy Serkis – The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Prestige) are two down-and-out Irish men who have run out of canals to dig in Scotland. However a shortage in bodies for Edinburgh’s grand medical colleges creates a business opportunity for two mates handy with spades. They begin to build a fortune on the backs of recently deceased corpses sold for dissection to a well-off doctor. However when the graves can’t provide the products they need, they turn to more direct methods of obtaining fresh corpses.
Pegg and Serkis headline a stellar cast of British and American comic geniuses, including Ronnie Corbett, Bill Bailey, Tim Curry and Jessica Hynes. The plot is amusing, if a little predictable, and represents a good night out for a mature crowd. There are some sex scenes but these are stylized and included more for their comic value. What is more surprising is the moral tone that peeks out between the jokes. Attempting to explain the meaning of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Burke tells his love interest, “The whole play’s about his inner struggle between good and evil, right and wrong,” – and the audience knows he is unwittingly talking about himself. He wants the ‘good’ his love represents but he walks an ‘evil’ path to get to it. And viewers are cautioned by the end of the film against feeling too sorry for him. Even comedians understand that sin requires a reckoning.